In April, AsianInvestor revealed the winners of its annual Asset Management Awards. The biggest prizes are the Marquee Awards, which reveal the leading institutions across key areas of the investment industry.
Our decisions were based on a blend of quantitative analysis and qualitative research, including feedback from third-party sources. Today we reveal how US banking giant Citi walked off with two of the big honours.
Asset services provider of the year
While rival institutions honed their capabilities in specific parts of the region, Citi spent 2016 expanding itself across Asia Pacific as a whole.
The bank enjoyed a few major accomplishments. One of the most notable was a tie-up with National Australia Bank to act as its cross-border custodian. Citi had been late to the game in the country, and with superannuation funds set to keep growing and investing more asset offshore, the alliance marked an opportunity for the US bank to get a piece of the action.
Citi also made headway in Japan. It says it is inking a contract with a major trust bank in the country, again to assist as a global custodian in the steady flow of local client assets making their way into international markets, where Citi is well placed. Add into this a tie-up with a major sovereign wealth fund for tens of billions of dollars of new assets under custody (AUC), and the year marked a very successful one for the US bank.
In terms of its overall business, Citi saw its AUC enjoy steady improvement, posting 12% growth across the region. Other areas that enjoyed improvement included prime finance, where the bank globally recorded bigger flows, and its futures capabilities, where it raised its game to become the fourth largest player globally.
In addition, Citi continues to build its capabilities in China’s expanding market. While it’s far from being a market leader in the country, it was the first US bank to gain the necessary licences to settle bonds on the domestic interbank bond market.
Elsewhere, in the Philippines Citi became the first to offer account operator services, and it aims to do the same in Indonesia this year.
And on the technology side, Citi introduced an integrated custody model, to reduce cut-off times and offer 24-hour access to its network for six days of the week to process instructions, and offer reduced latency and more transparency.
Consumer bank of the year
For Asia’s growing wealthy populace, Citi’s variety of services remain a reliable entry point. It operates in 12 markets across Asia, offering a variety of products to its clients.
The business enjoyed stable growth last year, adding 14% in terms of client numbers, versus about 5% in 2015. A large part of this growth came from deepening relations with Citigold clients, who then step up to become Citigold private clients as they become wealthier.
The wealth management arm combines foreign exchange services with open architecture investment options, as well as standard perks from Citigold such as credit cards and airport limousine services, which the bank’s clients love. Citi recognises these perks help personalise its capabilities over its funds platform.
More importantly, Citi spent time and effort to better identify model portfolios of well-run ‘premier’ funds for its clients, which it then updated on a quarterly basis to demonstrate how they performed versus benchmarks.
Other important service additions included the launch of a Total Wealth Adviser platform and wealth counselling tool Portfolio 360, to help clients better tailor their investment strategies to meet savings targets.
As part of this, Citi has partnered with a third-party financial technology firm to create portfolio analysis software, which advisers can use to help clients identify whether they are on track to meet specific investment goals and, if not, to get them on the right track again. The service was launched in five countries in 2016, and the goal is to complete the rollout this year.
Other technology improvements included greater variety for its mobile app, to help clients conduct more do-it-yourself investments or goal-setting.
What's more, Citi continued working with the Wharton Business School to train its regional relationship managers via events and training webinars. Citi aims to put all RMs through this programme.
Keep an eye out for write-ups of other Marquee Award winners in the coming days. Next up: the region's Best Private Bank and Best Retail Product.
For the full list of award winners, see below: